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Islam Sobhy

Dr Islam Sobhy

Lecturer in Plant Ecology

School of Biosciences

Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


My main research interests are in the field of applied plant biology, plant-microbe-insect interactions, chemical ecology, and crop protection. I am particularly interested in the defensive functions of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants and microbes.

Combining analytical chemistry, behavioural ecology, entomology, microbiology, molecular biology and multivariate statistics, I attempt to characterize the VOC profiles of crop plants and nectar yeasts, particularly the factors (abiotic & biotic) that affect or regulate the emission of these chemical signals.

My major endeavour is to better understand the underlying mechanisms of plant-microbe-insect interactions, with the aim of developing ecologically benign, environment-friendly, and affordable interventions for crop protection against insect pests as key constraints to global food security.






















Currently, I am conducting research within mosquito feeding behaviour using novel sugar feeding systems.

In 2018, I joined Keele University, UK, as a research associate in chemical ecology. There, I worked with collaborators from icipe (Kenya) on developing a new phase of 'push–pull' companion planting for tackling the devastating fall armyworm, a new invasive insect pest threats food security, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2016, I joined KU Leuven, Belgium, as a postdoctoral research associate where I had the opportunity to expand my expertise in plant-insect interactions to include microbes that are associated with floral nectar, especially aroma producing yeasts. I demonstrated that nectar-inhabiting yeasts produce specific microbial volatiles that robustly mediate the foraging behaviour of flower-visiting insects.

In 2013, I joined the Plant-Insect Interactions group at Okayama University, Japan, after being awarding a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship. There, I investigated the inducible defence traits of rice and sorghum against lepidopterous herbivores.

In 2012, after awarding my PhD in Entomology (Chemical Ecology), I was awarded a Rothamsted International Fellowship (RIF) to continue my PhD research line on plant defence inducers, as a postdoctoral fellow at Rothamsted Research, UK. I investigated how a plant elicitor, cis-jasmone (CJ), elicits potato defence against aphids and modulates the emission of defence volatiles.

In 2009, I was awarded a doctoral fellowship (Sandwich PhD) to conduct my PhD studies at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland. In my PhD, I managed to increase the attractiveness of maize plants to parasitoids with the application of plant chemical elicitors.

In 2004, I successfully completed an MSc in Entomology (Biological Control) on the factors affecting mass production of the anthocorid predators at Suez Canal University, Egypt.

Honours and awards

  • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES).
  • KU Leuven Specialization Grant.
  • JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • Rothamsted International Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • The Phytochemical Society of Europe Award for Young Researchers.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (RES).
  • Member of the Association of Applied Biologist (AAB).
  • Member of the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE).

Academic positions

  • 2021-Present: Research Associate, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2018- 2021: Research Associate in Chemical Ecology, Keele University, UK
  • 2017-2018: Postdoctoral Research Associate, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 2012-2017: Lecturer in Entomology, Suez Canal University, Egypt
  • 2013-2015: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Okayama University, Japan
  • 2012-2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, Rothamsted Research, UK
  • 2009-2011: PhD Student, Neuchâtel University, Switzerland
  • 2004-2012: Assistant Lecturer in Entomology, Suez Canal University, Egypt
  • 2000-2004: Teaching Assistant, Suez Canal University, Egypt

Committees and reviewing

  • Associate Editor for Physiological Entomology.
  • Guest Editor for the research topic (Inducing Plant Resistance Against Insects Using Exogenous Bioactive Chemicals: Key Advances and Future Perspectives) - Frontiers in Plant Science (
  • Review Editor for Frontiers in Plant Science (Plant Metabolism and Chemodiversity) and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (Chemical Ecology).
  • Reviewer for several journals [Scientific Reports (nature), Animal Behaviour (Elsevier), Journal of Chemical Ecology (Springer), Insects (MDPI), Crop Protection (Elsevier), Arthropod-Plant Interactions (Springer), Journal of Economic Entomology (Oxford Academic), PLoS One (PLOS) and Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata (Wiley), The Canadian Entomologist (Cambridge University), International Journal of Acarology (Taylor & Francis), Pest Management Science (Wiley) and Physiological Entomology (Wiley)].